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World Health Organization Set To Meet On International Status Of Cannabis

 By Roger Malespin November 2, 2018 photo/Istock/mseidelch

A very big moment for marijuana scheduling at the international level is set to take place next month when the World Health Organization (WHO) branch of Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD) convenes on global drug policy agreements. Right now, marijuana is restricted by the WHO at the highest level, just like it is here in the States. However, with the recent wave of marijuana reforms sweeping western nations, including full legalization by Canada, the WHO may be track to declassify it and lift the current restrictions.

Consignitories of the drug control treaties are not supposed to reform the drug laws in their own nations, but at the end of the day a sovereign nation has the right to govern as they see fit, and Canada’s legalization will have far reaching effects as predicted. Medical marijuana’s benefits are backed by hard science and countless personal testimonials, and as we’ve been reporting for the better part of a year, it is set to become one of the most lucrative globally traded commodities. To that end, the WHO will likely ease its restrictions for international trading, if for no other reason than the revenue.

 Here at home, the Trump administration and the FDA are taking public comments to gather and submit to the WHO for the meeting. Questions are about  "abuse potential, actual abuse, medical usefulness, trafficking, and impact of scheduling changes on availability for medical use" of cannabis and several other substances now under international review. The new meeting will come off the heels of the last meeting in June, where the ECDD for the first time acknowledged the medical benefits of CBD oils and other non-intoxifying extracts.

It should be noted that last month, the FDA publicly released a letter to the DEA concluding that they found credible evidence for the medical benefits of CBD and suggested that it be taken completely out of federal control. While that exact recommendation may not happen, it carries major clout when submitted to the WHO next month.

How exactly the Trump administration will frame their recommendations is still uncertain. While some heavy hitters such as Attorney General Jeff Sessions are vehemently anti marijuana, Trump himself is not, and his past vindictive behavior and public feud with Sessions could indicate a favorable recommendation. It’s not clear if the U.S. government is ready to declassify right now, but they are certainly concerned about missing out on the potential revenue Canada will reap, and the WHO declassifying will multiply that concern tenfold.

This might seem like it is far removed from the everyday lives of those in the cannabis community, but the results of this meeting and subsequent final decision in March of 2019 could steer the future of marijuana reform down a path of no return. Opening up the international markets to a legal and regulated marijuana trade is a huge deal, and it’s nearly unthinkable that the U.S. government will sit on the sidelines of that trade for long. It should also be noted that the current UN Secretary General is António Guterres, who as Prime Minister of Portugal reformed his nation’s drug laws to great success.

Anyone interested in participating in the FDA public comment survey in favor of marijuana reform can find all relevant information here.